Album Review

Posted: Friday 11th February 2000
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Howells: Requiem & Martin: Mass – Amazon

I have heard many perfomances of the Requiem, live and on recordings, and I believe this to be the best. There are many reasons why, but perhaps the most important is the commitment of the singers. It is too often the case that choirs shy away from emotionally charged and dare I say it, even subjective readings. Vasari do not. They are flexible in tempi and dynamics and the blend is gorgeous. One can almost feel the burden lifted from one’s shoulders as the 1st tenors sing their ascending passage at the end of the first movement. They are in their element and the solo voices are excellently suited. The performance of the Martin is no less gutsy. This is impressive not least because it is a difficult piece of music, but also because it is, like Howells, so demanding on the voice. Some of the passages from the Creed, particularly the sotte voce “et ressurexit,” are just sublime. Do not listen to those that tell you the Westminster recording is better. It is far too reserved, and Martin’s feelings about writing Religious music are anything but that. The Mass remained hidden for so long because it was a highly emotional piece that he felt he could not share.

D Kelly